I loved everything about this book! ‘A food lover’s pilgrimage to France: from the vineyards of Burgundy to the mountains of the Basque country food, wine, walking and history on the French pilgrim paths to Santiago de Compostella’ – it is one of the best books I have ever read. Remember, in my former life, I was a librarian, so, over the years, many books have passed through my hands!
Beautifully written by very experienced Australian journalist, Dee Nolan, with exquisite photographs by Earl Carter, I loved every minute and felt I had undertaken a pilgrimage along with her. Words cannot describe how engaging this book is, you need to read it for yourself. Dee’s descriptions came alive for me and I was there with her enjoying her pilgrimage as she travelled the Camino through France from Dijon to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port.
Along the way, Dee spent time reflecting as she ‘trod in the footsteps of pilgrims hundreds of years before’, through France’s beautiful countryside. We shared her experiences of talking with the farmers, producers and winemakers, as well as exceptional cooks, and chefs. The interviews with chefs, some I have followed over the years, were so interesting and enlightening. The book opens with Dee meeting and interviewing the larger than life, Olivier Leflaive, a charming Burgundian vigneron, also visited by Michael and I a few years ago, when we spent a couple of glorious days with in his vineyard, dining in his restaurant, drinking the wines and staying in his lovely hotel in Puligny-Montrachet, Burgundy. How exciting I thought to read about him here and to relive our wonderful few days. Then the sensational, in-depth chapters on Paul Bocuse, Michel Troisgros, Michel and Sébastien Bras, and descriptions of Pierre Koffmann’s Gascony, brought so much to life, I had to buy Pierre’s book, Memories of Gascony; plus of course, there is just so much more.
It was such a joy for me to spend the first few hours of each day in my last January break at Kureelpa, reading this sensational book; it will be the same for all those who, like me, love France, its people, history, especially Medieval history, architecture, countryside, food, artisanal producers and wine. Her extensive research for this book shines through the detailed descriptions and explanations in the pages and this is substantiated by the extensive bibliography and notes at the end. Extra sources and references provide everything one needs to know before embarking on one’s own pilgrimage.
Ever since reading Marion Halligan’s Cockles of the heart’ years ago, in which she writes about her pilgrimage through France to Spain, the Camino de Santiago de Compostella has fascinated me. Some friends have walked various routes; I have visited many places on its route, such as beautiful Moissac, the Auvergne, watched some movies, and read articles. For me, this book provided the most valuable, interesting and informative information of all.
I have always loved visiting those cathedrals and churches displaying their decorative scallop shells indicating they are part of the pilgrim’s way; it fascinated and excited me with the connection to an ancient past. However, now after reading this glorious book, I am so inspired; it has re-kindled my desire to walk, and or drive, as Dee Nolan did, some of this camino. I am now planning my own ‘pilgrimage’.